Debbie Gibson has Lyme disease.
The 1980s teen star shared the news after people criticized her earlier this month for pictures she shared online showing her skinny frame while she was in Chile for two performances.
"I feel compelled to address a health-related issue I have been dealing with," the 43-year-old wrote Wednesday on her website. "Last year, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. It is an elusive disease that disguises itself as many other things and creates a lot of pain and discomfort along the way."
"I am not exactly sure when or where I picked it up, but, in the early spring, I began to show unusual symptoms. A lot of Lyme symptoms mimic symptoms of anxiety and stress"
Gibson wrote the illness has affected her diet.
"The first symptoms came in the form of food sensitivities. I found I could not touch sugar, starch, caffeine, certain oils etc., without having a severe reaction that felt like jolts of electricity running through my body. I kept eating a ton of protein and fat to try to keep weight on ... egg yolks, red meat, you name it. But the weight kept falling off and I had a gaunt and sinewy look."
The singer said those around her noticed the change.
"At times, my boyfriend would insist I eat some pasta and butter, even though I did not feel great doing it," she says. "'You need to gain weight,' he would say. My spine was frail and unprotected."
Gibson wrote that she tried using Botox to smooth the lines caused by her weight loss. "Both the trauma of the needles and the toxin itself wreaked havoc on my physical and mental state. I will never put this or any other toxin into my body for vanity reasons again."
"Five days after the treatment, I was texting my boyfriend and he noticed I was mixing up my words. I had trouble with directions and driving. I was terrified."
Gibson found a doctor who has helped with various medications.
"I actually feel like me again," she wrote. "We all face challenges and I am learning much from the ones I am facing. No disease in the body can keep the spirit from soaring, the love from pouring, and nothing can stop the music."